Members of a Mississippi sorority blacked their faces to look like members of The Cosby Show for a recent party. Once the public found out by seeing their photos on Facebook, complaints led the University of Southern Mississippi’s black dean to have a little talk with them. Now, the mostly white group of girls will get a lesson about racism.
The University of Southern Mississippi Phi Mu sorority girls decided to dress up as members of the popular TV series’ black cast by blackening their faces before attending a 1980’s themed party. Typical of college kids, they posted pictures of themselves in black face on the internet. It did not take long for people to see them and start calling the university in protest.
Dean of the University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. Eddie Holloway, took a level-headed approach to the problem. He said the Mississippi sorority members clearly had no ill intent. The dean noted the girls were being cooperative and contrite. He said, “We will use this as a teachable moment and motivation for dialogue on appropriate sensitivity and respect around issues of diversity.” As Dr. Holloway put, these girls have had little cultural awareness or competency. That’s an understatement any way that you look at it.
The culturally ignorant decision to go black face seems to underline a common problem in some segments of society. It is difficult for some white members of society to understand what racism really is and how it affects its victims. When one is a member of the dominate culture in any society, it is necessary to make an effort to be mindful of those who are in the minority. It is doubtful a group of white Mississippi sorority members would have much experience first hand with the plight of minorities due to social clustering. These girls need a few lessons in the real world.